July 13, 2020, 09.15 PM
A file photo of palm oil plantation. ShutterstockA file photo of palm oil plantation.


JAKARTA, KOMPAS.comIndonesia hopes its mandatory biodiesel program will help counter the flak its palm oil industry is taking from media and authorities in the European Union.

Palm oil exports reached $154.9 million in 2019, accounting for 22.4 percent of the country's total exports. But the industry continues to suffer the impact of the black propaganda perpetuated to keep the commodity's price unstable in the export market, according to the Indonesian Oil Palm Estate Fund (BPDP-KS).

“The negative campaign is one of the causes of the low selling price of Indonesian palm oil products,” said BPDP-KS Supervisory Board Chairman Rusman Heriawan during a webinar on Monday, June 29.

The smear campaign, Rusman said, touched on deforestation, a carbon footprint that was considered high, the welfare of the palm oil farmers, and the use of child labor by palm oil companies.

Also read: Indonesia Lures 7 Foreign Locators to Batang Industrial Estate, 17 More in Talks With Government

He explained that the palm oil industry contributed significantly to providing job opportunities in Indonesia. The industry has recruited more than 22 million workers from upstream to downstream activities. Of this number, about seven million people work in the upstream sector, while more than 16 million people in the downstream sector, including manpower who are indirectly related to palm oil.

Biodiesel program

In the effort to fight the smear campaign and to stabilize the crude palm oil (CPO) price, the government has begun to run the mandatory biodiesel program.

The government mandated a 2.5 percent biodiesel mix in 2008 and gradually increased the biofuel content to 7.5 percent in 2010. Later the percentage of biodiesel increased from 10 percent to 15 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Then on January 1, 2016, the government mandated a 20 percent biodiesel mix (B20). Now, the government is intensifying the mandatory B30 or biodiesel program by up to 30 percent.

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